Malta u l-politika

Ittri ċċensurati u punti ta' riflessjoni politika.

Il-Gvern Nazzjonalista fir-rebbiegha tal-2006 hasad lill-poplu Malti meta habbar tkabbir sostanzjali fiz-zoni diga zviluppati. Minghajr dubbju, decizjoni bhal din qajmet rabbja kbira minhabba li l-Maltin saru konxji mill-bzonn urgenti li l-ambjent Malti jigi mhares u biex l-izvilupp f?dan il-pajjiz jigi mrazzan u kkontrollat qabel ikun tard wisq.

Il-kundanna ghad-decizjoni infami bhal din kienet wahda immedjata. Il-Gvern Nazzjonalista jasal jiehu l-messagg li qieghed jinghata u jerga lura mid-decizjoni li ha?

The latest online poll by The Times, asking whether changes to development zones would be in the national interest, has shown a majority being against, citing the level of construction works, over-development and a lack of open space. Some of the 66.24 per cent of respondents who were against the changes also felt that the adjustments were a matter of “speculation and corruption”.

The Times 22.5.2006

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association said yesterday that any extension of boundaries for further development would be detrimental to the tourism industry.

The Times 22.5.20

The Church Environment Commission has expressed its concern over the government's proposal to alter the development boundaries, saying such an exercise would be detrimental to the country's environmental and natural resources....

The Times 10.6.2006

The proposed changes to the development boundaries have raised, and are raising all manner of protests and counter protests in a land that has become newly sensitive to green issues. People are just desperate to see some sort of sense of fair play restored, or perhaps the right word is for fair play to be introduced, to these islands where successive governments have always been, or are perceived to be, weak with the strong and strong with the weak. The new rich today are not the industrialists or entrepreneurs of the past. They are our contractors and speculators and, while Jo and Joanna Borg struggle with yet another undeserved warden fine or sky high electricity bills, the perception is that the rich are being allowed to get richer far too easily. So this move, relatively close to an election, is bound to raise a lot of doubts and suspicions, and clearly the timing was not what it could have been. … Imagine you own a nice old house with fields around and next door is going to be developed. The value of your property plummets, your quality of life suffers while the lucky person whose land is now in zone is guffawing all the way to the bank! You get no compensation and he becomes a millionaire (well maybe a euro millionaire) overnight. … Has the homework been done before this environmentally unpopular move was suggested to or decided upon by Cabinet? It’s very important that people who are being taxed to the hilt, (well, those who have no choice but to declare all their income and so called privileges) feel that the government is looking after its family silver as well as it can. And what is the value of government land coming into scheme? Was it needed? Is that planned for resale, to raise revenue or what? Do we know what we have in terms of land, and what we plan to do with what is being proposed, and was it needed as of now? Was this part of Cabinet’s criteria?

Marisa Micallef

The Malta Independent on Sunday 11.6.2006

Alternattiva Demokratika insisted yesterday that the Cabinet's recently unveiled plans to readjust the development boundaries is “illegal”. … AD chairman Harry Vassallo … called on the government to withdraw its proposals and to commit itself, together with all other political parties, not to extend development boundaries any further. … Dr Vassallo described the government's move as “absurd” … “It is absurd that the government exposes a vast expanse of the surviving countryside to development when we clearly already have more than double the amount of space required,” he insisted. Speaking of how the proposed extensions would affect Attard, Dr Vassallo pointed out that the village would be joined to Ta' Qali if the planned extension is approved. … Dr Vassallo described the proposed changes in Mellieha as shocking. Not only was the government extending an area that includes the side of a valley and in which carob trees are planted but the extension is actually a substitute for an area which was excluded in Tas-Sellum. “This exceptional compensation,” he said, “is particularly suspect since it would expose the government to an obligation to compensate all owners of land lying outside development zone.”

The Times 12.6.2006

Speaking at a press conference held on site in Birzebbugia on Saturday, Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) spokesperson Dr. Harry Vassallo said that the extension of development boundaries was not only illegal and unnecessary but was also contradictory.

BIRZEBBUGIA, Malta (di-ve news) -- June 17, 2006 -- 1810CEST

Rather than proposing the extension of development areas, many would have deemed it more logical to freeze development areas. For it does not make sense to extend building zones when, by the government's own admission, there is sufficient vacant land within the existing development boundaries to build almost 100,000 units, whereas the likely requirement for housing up to 2020 is well under half this figure. To extend the present development zones by a further 2.5 per cent in a country already severely overdeveloped cannot be seen to be in line with a declared commitment of securing sustainable development. The government may believe its proposals are based on social justice. But are they in the public interest? It would be both illogical and ill-judged to pursue this so-called rationalisation exercise further. The government would be wise to drop its proposals.

Editorjal, The Times 20.6.2006

BirdLife has presented the Malta Environment and Planning Authority with its objections to the proposed extension of development boundaries. In its letter to Mepa, BirdLife claimed that this will lead to increased pressure to extend building zones. While injustices might have been committed in the past, these inequities would not be corrected by overriding the planning processes. It further strongly objected to the proposed committee to evaluate requests for land to be included within development zones. This would create an anomaly in the planning process and lead to confusion and abuse, it held. BirdLife contends there is enough land to meet the demand for new dwellings over the Structure Plan period, that is up to 2020. This, it says, is proven by the fact that Mepa is still approving a considerable number of applications for new dwellings even though urban development outside development zones is restricted through planning policies.

The Times 23.6.2006

Further to the call for public participation in the debate over the Cabinet's proposal to include new sites within the development zone, we, residents in Sannat, wish to object to those recommended for Sannat and Munxar. The objection is based on four conclusions, as follows: Gozo's economy could be damaged by over-development … Increased noise pollution … Over-capacity in Gozo's housing market … Limited employment or other economic benefits to Gozo. … Our objection is sincere and not based on “nimbyism”. Gozo does not need more development - and certainly not on this scale. More harm than good will be done to economy and environment alike. It must not be allowed to go ahead.

David and Charlotte Carrington, Claude and Angele Calleja, Colin and Janet Rainbow-King, Val and Terry Gregory, John and Luisa Mizzi, Charles and Kate Nelson, Sannat.

The Times 24.6.2006

Friends of the Earth (FoE Malta) has presented the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) with its objections to the proposed extension of development boundaries. In its objections, FoE (Malta) expressed its great concern at the manner by which the proposal to give up further land for development has been handled by the authorities. The organisation questioned the validity of any public consultation exercise to be carried out by the government since the criteria against which land will be given the green light for development had already been approved by Cabinet. … FoE held that contrary to what is being claimed, there is no social need for more dwellings, as Malta has more than 20,000 empty housing units. “From your own records, you know that with 22% of Malta and Gozo's area built up, as opposed to an average of 7% in Europe, every bit of our islands' fast-disappearing countryside is precious.” FoE said that the Maltese can no longer tolerate this unsustainable building activity with appalling levels of dust and noise which is causing deterioration in the quality of life of the public. The lack of regulation of building activity is also causing widespread health problems, especially asthma and related conditions, the organisation held. It also pointed out that the loss of more countryside, and the filth, noise and unsightly surroundings caused by our permanent building sites are having a negative effect on tourism, the mainstay of our economy, with job losses already being felt in that sector. “Given this situation, what is required is a moratorium on further development, pending serious study of Malta's housing needs,  not further building. The construction industry should gear its activities toward renovation and rehabilitation rather than construction on virgin land.” … FoE therefore declared its strong objection to MEPA “acting as a mere rubber-stamp to authorise more land being given out for development against the people's will.” It then called on MEPA to urge the government to reconsider its decision “which will have irreparable harm on what is left of our countryside” and not to approve the government's proposal and to work instead for a better environment through measures that truly reflect the national interest.

VALLETTA, Malta (di-ve news) June 24, 2006 -- 1140CEST

Labour MP Leo Brincat yesterday presented a petition by over 550 Msida residents insisting that no building development should take place in an area in Msida valley which, according to the local plan, is important for flood prevention. Mr Brincat warned that building on this area would make Msida's flooding problems worse. Nationalist MP Michael Gonzi tabled a petition from a similar number of residents of Mellieha urging Mepa to reconsider its interpretation of a Cabinet memo on development zones and not to allow any development in the area known as L-Ibrag and Qortin ta' Barra in Mellieha. This area, Dr Gonzi said, was of environmental and ecological importance.

The Times 28.6.2006

Nature Trust (Malta) has submitted its objections to the proposed development boundaries extensions. The NGO said that considering Malta's size “such extensions go beyond sustainable development and environmental protection. With these proposed boundaries we will simply be leaving future generations less and less natural heritage,” it said. Nature Trust said it is concerned at the very short period allowed for the consultation process. “Environmental NGOs are voluntary groups. Given all the areas to be examined, six weeks is too short a period for such a national issue,” it said. The NGO urged the authorities to act responsibly and show their environmental credentials by not approving the boundaries. Such development proposals go against all environmental protection concepts, it said.

The Times 30.6.2006

The government has been far from convincing in its defence of the plan. And if, after all that has now been said about the proposed extension, it does not take notice of the people's reaction, it would not be unjustified on the opposition's part, or, indeed, on the part of organisations interested in the matter, to accuse the government of insensitiveness and arrogance.

Editorjal, The Times 5.7.2006

Listening to the Prime Minister last Saturday, I felt uneasy and disturbed by his reference to the social dimension in the government’s plans to destroy more of Malta and Gozo. Dr Gonzi knows far too well that what he said is codswallop. There is no social dimension in the new building zones but institutionalised stupidity. The vast majority of people who will benefit from these areas are speculators – not the socially deprived that Dr Gonzi dreams about.

Saviour Balzan

MaltaToday 2.7.2006

Four environmental organisations have applied for the issue of a warrant of prohibitory injunction against the Malta Environment and Planning Authority over the planned development zone extensions. The organisations asked the First Hall of the Civil Court to stop Mepa from processing, in any way, the submissions made by the public after Mepa released maps indicating how local plans would be modified. … Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar (Together For A Better Environment), the Biological Conservation Research Foundation, Friends of the Earth (Malta) and the Ramblers' Association said the maps showed the manner in which the local plans for Malta and Gozo would change and indicated the land that would now be developable on the basis of a memorandum sent to Mepa by the Cabinet of ministers. Land that would be developable at the express request of the government also featured on the maps.

The Times 7.7.2006

Twenty-nine Bahar ic-Caghaq residents yesterday filed a judicial protest in court to complain about the inclusion of a piece of land in the locality in the extension of the development boundaries. The residents filed the protest against the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Environment and Rural Affairs Minister George Pullicino. The residents said that the land in question should not have been included in the extension since it did not satisfy the requirements established by the Cabinet of Ministers to see what land qualifies for inclusion. They said that one of the criteria established by the Cabinet, was that for land to be included it had to have three of its four sides adjacent to urbanised zones. However, they said, this piece of land only had two sides adjacent to urbanised areas and thus should not qualify for inclusion. The residents said part of the land had a supply of water and was on lease for agricultural purposes. Moreover, they said it contained a number of indigenous protected trees. They said they submitted their objections to Mepa but despite having been submitted by hand, no receipt had been issued. They said Mepa had ignored their submissions and it had also ignored the criteria established by the Cabinet on which land should be included in the extension of the development zones. They said the value of their property had decreased as a result of the inclusion of this land and added that Mepa had acted illegally and abusively. They said they were holding the authorities liable for damages and warned of possible legal action in this regard.

The Malta Independent 15.7.2006

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar yesterday made a last-ditch attempt to alert the public of the “impending doom” that would result from the realisation of the government's “so-called” rationalisation exercise. “It is clear that the government's unusual urgency to rush the rationalisation process (through Parliament) by Wednesday is manifestly meant to pre-empt EU strictures in favour of the environment, which come into force on July 21,” explained spokesman Lino Bugeja in the name of the coalition that gathers 10 NGOs under its umbrella. The move - and the speed with which it was being carried out - was described as a ploy.

The Sunday Times 16.7.2006

The extension of the development boundaries shows how the Government caved in to lobbying to allow further building in green areas where there is no real demand for it. … Statistics show that there is little requirement for new housing stock and the Authority’s own research shows that there is currently an oversupply that will last until 2020.

Martin Galea, Executive President Din l-Art Helwa

Vigilo Magazine Ottubru 2006.

The Environment Minister, who himself claimed only three years ago that all that was needed was to make better use of the existing zones as there was enough land there for the next twenty years, should hang his head in shame. “Vote George: Get Lorry: Get Lost” will be his epitaph. With politicians like these, we will never rise above being a Second World country.

Martin Scicluna, Vice President Din l-Art Helwa

Vigilo Magazine Ottubru 2006.

L-Erbgha 26 ta’ Lulju 2006

Il-mozzjoni mressqa mill-Gvern biex jizdiedu z-zoni ghall-izvilupp giet approvata mill-Parlament bi 33 vot (tal-Gvern) favur u 28 vot (tal-Oppozizzjoni) kontra.

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